The program for the presentation ball for the 1972 Crown Princess of Oakland. From the José Sarria papers (1996-01), GLBT Historical Society.
José Julio Sarria was best known as a drag performer and a pioneer in the gay rights movement. Crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964, Sarria created the title "Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton‚" and soon thereafter established the Imperial Court System, a network of non-profit charitable organizations throughout the United States and internationally. Each year, an Imperial Court chapter elects an Emperor and Empress (the latter usually a drag queen) and puts on a fundraising coronation gala. The Imperial Courts span both urban and rural queer communities and provide a space for individuals to socialize, lead, and contribute to civic life. Sarria remained a central figure in the Imperial Court System until his 2013 death.
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